Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

There is a raging debate right now about just how close the presidential race is. Is it really that close? Is it time for Democrats to panic? On and on and on. As you may have picked up from my tone I think there's a lot more heat here than light. Or to put it in statistical terms, the discussion has a high margin of ego and acrimony, even though the actual disagreements seem relatively limited.

The debate between Nate Silver and his critics essentially comes down to the meaning of "close". At heart there's an argument here over something that seems as emotive as statistical - how much should we emphasize that while Clinton remains the favorite to win, we can't take for granted or assume she'll win? This doesn't strike me as a truly statistical argument. More concretely, people are arguing over whether the current 538 model is more volatile than it should be, whether it's picking up a lot of polling noise as opposed to signal. This is a statistical and probability question that is frankly beyond me.

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Most of the commentary I've seen about Monday night's debate focuses on whether Trump will show up hot and angry or be a suddenly polished and articulate Donald Trump we've never seen before. There's also a feverish debate over expectations which posits that if Trump doesn't kill anyone or find some new extremely sympathetic person to make racist comments about that he'll win - judged against extremely low expectations. Neither of these ring true to what I've seen from the two candidates over the last 18 months or what I glean from the state of the race.

For starters, Trump definitely said some crazy things in the numerous Republican debates. But fairly few of the really damaging things he said in this campaign were in the debates. They tended to be at rallies or in interviews. Put simply, Trump wasn't as crazy or unhinged in debates as people seem to remember. So if we're expecting him to come in trash talking and angry I think we may be surprised, at least at first.

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Here's the third episode of my new podcast with Bloomberg Businessweek's Josh Green. We talk about that Mark Penn memo from the 2008 campaign, which he was the first to report way back in 2008 and also his 2015 profile of Steve Bannon, Breitbart capo and now Trump campaign capo. Josh basically has the inside track on everything that turns out to be central about the 2016 campaign. So I talked to him about it. Hope you enjoy.

With this in mind, who's gets rattled more easily, who's cooler under pressure: Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?

No, this isn't some highly integrated scam ad telling you to click because something's wrong with your computer. This is an actual post. (No, TPM really hasn't been hacked.) Even though you don't come to TPM for information about Mac operating systems, I wanted to share this unfortunate experience with the Mac users in our audience.

The short version is there seems to be some fairly major issue with the new Desktop/Document iCloud backup system if you try to use the backup service with more than one Mac (which is to say, more than one desktop computer as opposed to iOS device.)

Here's the longer version.

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We're just days away from the first presidential debate and the final sprint of the 2016 campaign. There's no better time to subscribe to TPM Prime. Seriously, this is a great time to join TPM Prime. Not just because you get our digital magazine The Arch, my new podcast, fewer ads, full RSS feeds and lots of other cool stuff but because Prime is a critical part of keeping TPM thriving, growing and vital. If you feel like you need TPM then TPM definitely needs you. Join us.

As I noted earlier this evening, I was wrong about what I thought would happen when Steven Bannon took a leave from Breitbart News and took over the Trump campaign. I assumed that formally teaming up with Bannon would mean Trump finally ditching even the pretense of a 'pivot' and doubling down on a 90 day primal scream of rage and derp. It is still largely rage and derp. But Bannon brought a discipline to Trump's operation that his two predecessors never could. Yes, yes, the bar is so low it might simply be a painted over part of the floor. But recognize the difference. Bannon kept Trump on the teleprompter mainly. He limited the Curiel/Khan type debacles. And yet even with the Bannon/Conway leadership, two people Trump seems largely to trust and work with, it is amazing the degree to which the campaign remains a war between a semblance of strategy and management and Trump's instinctive drives and arrested emotional development.

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One of the many fascinating things to come out of my chat with Josh Green (for Episode 3 of the podcast) was the still largely unappreciated role of Steve Bannon looming over the 2016 race.

Obviously, being Trump's campaign chairman in itself is a very big deal. Kellyanne Conway is the nominal campaign manager. But Bannon seems to be the top executive in the operation. And to the surprise of many (including myself), rather than signaling Trump going finally totally off he rails, Bannon is the first of Trump's three campaign chiefs to bring some level of discipline to the operation. Not a high bar. But it's been real and important. So that's point one.

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